VTA behind non-tunnelling options for North East Link
Anderson says a new ‘Maroondah Freeway’ can be an alternative option to tunnels
The Victorian Transport Association (VTA) is urging the state government, VicRoads and other relevant authorities to contemplate alternative options for the North East Link (NEL) as opposed to creating "expensive" tunnels.
Having gained premier Daniel Andrews' support on the project last month, VTA expects that public conversation will soon kick off on the subject of NEL routing.
VTA CEO Peter Anderson says there are both "pros and cons to the two current options on the table in terms of cost, time and community impacts".
"From a freight perspective, the VTA encourages options be considered that do not require tunnelling.
"Tunnels are expensive to build, prolong construction timelines, and cannot accommodate dangerous goods vehicles, which forces them onto other roads, impacting community amenity."
Anderson says a "variation to the northern option via Eltham could see the road extended further east to Chirnside Park and connect with the Maroondah Highway, which could be converted into a ‘Maroondah Freeway’, hooking back up with Eastlink at Ringwood and bypassing the Eastlink tunnels.
"While an ‘out there’ idea, it could mitigate the need for expensive tunnels and appeal to the broadest variety of heavy vehicle types, as well as cater for population growth in the outer east.
"The idea is also indicative of the outside the box thinking that should be applied to the project to get the most time- and cost-effective solution for Victorian motorists.
"Tunnels or no tunnels, the connection is needed and we are thrilled the government is taking it on."
A long-time supporter and lobbyist of the project, VTA plans to continue working with the state authorities as the project progresses.
"Our job as an industry group is to ensure every option is considered that delivers the best-possible long-term productivity improvements for freight operators, which will inevitably flow through to the broader economy.
"We look forward to being a part of important future discussions about the North East Link."